Happy events make us happy. Isn't this a simple idea? No, not at all.

Happy events make for happy thoughts, and happy thoughts make us happy. We anticipate something special, something glorious, something exciting and funny, and we are happy. Conversely, we do not think thoughts that are sad, bad, scary, and we are not unhappy.

Accordingly, we should not need happy events to make us happy. We should just think happy thoughts. To rely on happy events is a weakness.

Still, to be happy without outside help is something most of us don't know how to do. Unhappy events do sadden us. We must know though, that we can change ourselves, we can work on and improve ourselves. And in working on ourselves, and in improving our ability to think happy thoughts, we will find a special key to happiness.


Here is a formula to think over: Love + Fear = Happiness.

Our real happiness comes from trying our best -- doing, thinking, saying all we can. But, together with doing, is a "feeling", an "emotion" -- an attitude that accompanies us along the way. Which attitude should we adopt as we strive to do our best?

Seemingly, the best choice is love. To do with love is to do more. To do with love is to give more -- more of ourselves, more of our energy, more of our hopes.

But to live only with love is like walking a tightrope -- we may easily fall from it. For when we act with love, we are tempted to think, "Surely I have proved myself; surely, I have shown my dedication -- now I can rest."

This however, is a mistake. For, in truth, not from love do we speak these words, but from laziness -- from a desire to rest, to relax -- from a wish to sit amongst the butterflies and do nothing.

So, we need another emotion, another attitude. This is fear. We must be afraid that our friend, our lover, will tire of us, will walk away from us. Such a fear is a good fear, a healthy fear. It leads us to try harder, to do more, to be more. And together with love, it can lead us to every happiness and success.[1]


Look at the children playing in the garden. Doesn't this give you pleasure? Surely, you can delight in their beauty, their simplicity? Surely, you can enjoy their laughter, their fun?

Look at old people, resting in their places. See worn hands resting on shining walking sticks. See lived-in faces with deep, warm eyes staring into the distance, gazing into an uncertain future. Surely, you could hug such a person?

So far, the exercise has been easy. Now, let's take it one more step.

Start to look at all people in a new way, in a happy way. Some of them dress well, others are a little shabby -- some are handsome, others are quite plain -- some are easy to talk to, others are distant. Still, we can enjoy them all. We can take pleasure in their presence. We can see them as our friends, and wish them happiness and success.


We like wheels. Whether they are skateboards or sports cars, bikes or limousines, they attract our pleasure, our interest, our fascination. Why do they so appeal to us?

One idea is that we enjoy the thought of small actions producing powerful reactions. Press your foot lightly on the gas, and your car surges forward, with muscle, with a roar.

More important though, is that this pleasure points us towards a potential that is especially ours. This is our ability to turn the wheels of the universe, to bring down the rains, to draw health, wealth, excitement and happiness into our lives. This power Hashem plants within us. It is a power He wants us to realize, to possess. How may we achieve this great muscle? By being all that we can be. By doing all that we can do.


See also Rich or Happy?

[1] Yerushalmi, Brochos 9.5: Act with love and act with fear. Act with love -- for he who loves does not hate. Act with fear -- so that when you feel like turning away, you will not turn away.

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